Bad News and Good News

I’m sitting in the lobby, waiting for monster to come out from his oncology appointment. As Monster is getting older, and we’re not short on people who loves to remind me how old he looks, I tried to block out the feeling of impending doom. I never thought I would be sitting here having to face it head on as we battle cancer. We lost Sugar in April, and here we are again with Monster.

We found a huge lump at the base of his neck in August. It turned out to be cancerous. Our vet was hopeful that she could surgically remove it and then we can discuss our options with an oncologist. I was optimistic.

My vet called me after the procedure and told me that the tumor is wrapped around the jugular artery.  She didn’t want to risk nicking it so she opted to remove a sample for biopsy. To be honest, I was frustrated. I felt like our vet didn’t try hard enough. I just wanted someone to blame. It was easier to be angry.

Our vet referred us to an oncologist with the result of the biopsy – soft tissue sarcoma, grade three (that’s bad). I consulted with two oncologists, two surgical specialists, and a cardiologist. We did an echocardiogram and a CT scan.  Then they gave me the devastating news that the tumor had already spread to his lungs.

Since we got the initial diagnosis, I had kept myself almost stoic because we were going to fight this.  We were going to exhaust all our options.  And maybe there was a little denial too.  But after I hung up the phone with the oncologist that day, grief washed over me, with an onslaught of waves after waves of sorrow. I broke the news to KT over the phone and I went to pick up the kids early from school so I can prepare L for the inevitable.

We decided the best approach was to bypass the surgery and go straight to chemo.  I wanted honest answers and the reality is that there are no protocols to effectively combat a high-grade sarcoma that had spread to the lungs.  Regardless, it was worth a try so here we are a week after the first treatment for a follow-up exam.

Guys, we got great news! The oncologist pulled me into a room to tell me that the tumor at the base of his neck shrunk by approximately 70%.  We can’t tell if the tumors in his lungs are responding the same way without another CT scan but we are cautiously optimistic.  I didn’t quite grasp how wonderful the news is until my oncologist stressed that this is rare — practically unheard of.  Typically, they would need to keep switching the protocol for treatment with a cancer this far along, just in hope of managing the cancer.

However to complicate matters, Monster has a heart murmur that makes it inadvisable to stay on this protocol.  Although our oncologist is hard press to switch up the protocol now since it appears to be working, we need to consult with the cardiologist to find out if he thinks Monster’s heart can handle the next round of chemo.  Either way, I’m thrilled with the results right now.  We’ll figure out the rest when we get there.

Leave a Reply